Is it Too Late to Start an Accident Case?

Statutes of Limitations in New York

Time limits for bringing lawsuits are called “Statutes of Limitations.”  They specify the time period for starting a lawsuit. They are intended to allow a reasonable amount of time to start actions.  Once this time period expires, a lawsuit can usually not be filed. There are some exceptions that will allow cases to be filed after the time period expires, but it most instances the claims would be barred.  If a case is against a government entity, there are often “notice of claim” requirements that can be as short as ninety days! That’s why it’s important to speak an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you believe you may have been injured due to negligence.  So, if you are wondering, “Is it Too Late to Start an Accident Case,?” please read on to learn the time limits for many types of cases in New York.

Claims Against New York City Have Short Time Limits

The time limits for accident cases differ from State to State, from City to City, from Town to Town and also based on the type of case you bring.  For example, if you are suing the City of New York, you have only ninety days to file a “Notice of Claim” for a personal injury case. The time limit for filing a personal injury case against the City of New York is only 1 year and 90 days.  Any time you suspect municipal liability against any city agencies, it is imperative that you speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Why the Statute of Limitations is Important  

If you are considering bringing a case that has happened a long time ago it is helpful to know the Statutes of Limitations for many types of accident claims and other types of civil claims.  Even though cases rarely go to trial, the threat of a lawsuit is still the reason that an insurance company will make a settlement offer. If the time required by law to bring a case has expired, the insurance company will not pay out on a personal injury claim.

Time Limits for Common Claims

The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury, Property Damage and Product Liability negligence Cases is three years.  This would apply to a car accidents, a slip and fall, a dog bite, a ceiling fall and most other types of injuries that are caused by a mistake.  For negligent wrongful death, the Statute of Limitations is only two years. When bringing actions for “intentional torts” such as Assault and Battery, False Imprisonment and Defamation, to time period is only one year.  This is is why it is so important not to delay speaking to an attorney. At Wittenstein & Wittenstein, we offer a free consultation, so there is no reason not to call and discuss your possible case.

Time Limits for Malpractice

A Medical Malpractice case must be brought with 2 1/2 years.  If the claim involves a foreign object left inside the body of a patient, the time period is only 1 year.  Other types Professional Malpractice have a 3 year time limit. Most commercial claims such as Contracts, Fraud, Debt Collection and Collection of Rent have a six year time limit.  There is a limit of twenty years for enforcing a judgment. For more detailed information on Statutes of Limitations, you can check the Civil Practice Laws and Rules (C.P.L.R.)

How to Know When the New York Statute of Limitations Begins

Generally, the time period to bring a claim begins when the “cause of action arises.”  This is usually the date of the accident that caused the injury, the date an assault and battery occured, etc.  It can get more complicated in some types of cases to determine this date. There are also exceptions to the State of Limitations, but it is always best to start a case within the time limits.

What are the Exceptions to the Time Limits in New York?

There are situations where a person does not find out about the harm until well after the negligent or intentional action took place.  For example, a misdiagnosis may not be detected until symptoms arise much later. The “discovery exception” allows plaintiffs to bring lawsuits with the time period beginning when the harm is discovered, or should have been discovered.  The Statute of Limitations can also be delayed or “tolled” if a person is unable to bring a lawsuit because, for example, they are in a coma. For persons under the age of 18, the Statute of Limitations begins to run when they turn 18.

Applying exceptions to the Statute of Limitations is a complex undertaking and always a last resort.  That’s why time sensitive information should be discussed with an attorney as soon as possible after any type of incident where a lawsuit might be implicated. Picking up the phone is a much better strategy than wondering, “Is it Too Late to Start an Accident Case?  Wittenstein & Wittenstein has been handling civil lawsuit for generations. Call us for a free consultation at 718-261-8114 before the time runs out.

2019-05-16T19:19:09+00:00By |0 Comments

About the Author:

Senior Partner Ms. Wittenstein began working at the firm in 1985 as a managing paralegal, learning all the practices and procedures of the firm from Mr. Wittenstein and the staff. From 1995-1998, she attended CUNY Law School where she made a mark as a teaching assistant for Civil Rights leader Haywood Burns. She founded a Human Rights Delegation to Haiti and studied Constitutional Law with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Working at the Equal Opportunity Employment Commision (EEOC), she learned a great deal about Employment Discrimination matters. She brought her knowledge of the Personal Injury practice and her passion for Civil Rights to the firm when she was admitted to the Bar in 1999. In 2000, she became a partner and the firm name was changed to Wittenstein & Wittenstein, Esqs. PC.

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